Toy Story's Voice Of Mr. Potato Head And Classic Comic Don Rickles Dies At 90


On comedy stages everywhere tonight will be moments of silence held for Don Rickles, who died today at his Los Angeles home from kidney failure at the age of 90. Known alternatively as both The Merchant of Venom as well as Mr. Warmth, his career spanned more than six decades on stage and screen.

From the stage, Rickles would insult anyone who he happened to see in his audience, the more famous the better. Starting in the 1950s, his act was seen by Frank Sinatra. When Rickles saw the already superstar Sinatra in the audience he didn't miss a beat, saying, "[Frank] I just saw your movie, The Pride and the Passion and I want to tell you, the cannon's acting was great." He followed up with, "make yourself at home, Frank. Hit somebody." Sinatra loved the act and regularly encouraged his celebrity friends to attend his shows so that they would get equally roasted, adding greatly to Rickles growing popularity.

His standup routines had continued up until recent years, with him poking a few jokes at the expense of President Obama during the 2012 AFI tribute to Shirley MacLaine.

His more than 80 acting credits include Toy Story, Casino, Get Smart, and Kelly's Heroes. Eclipsing his acting roles, he appeared as himself in nearly 200 shows, films, and stage productions. While he would insult anyone (as well as their dog) from the stage, he was known to everyone as a warm and kind hearted man. Comic Bob Newhart released a statement saying:

He was called 'The Merchant of Venom,' but in truth, he was one of the kindest, caring and most sensitive human beings we have ever known We are devastated, and our world will never be the same. We were totally unprepared for this.

The sentiments have been being echoed across Twitter as people have been chiming in with their own feelings on his loss.

In addition to his wife, Barbara, of 52 years, survivors include their daughter Mindy, son Larry, son-in-law Ed and grandchildren Ethan and Harrison.


About Bill Watters

Games programmer by day, geek culture and fandom writer by night. You'll find me writing most often about tv and movies with a healthy side dose of the goings-on around the convention and fandom scene.
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